Saving lives or saving the economy?


FAIR COMMENT | Alito L. Malinao

This is the dilemma faced by the Philippines and other countries in the world still reeling from Covid-19 and there seems to be no easy way out.
When you open the economy to restart businesses and restore jobs for people so that they can feed their families the outcome will surely be a rise in infections and deaths.

In the Philippines there is a tug of war between the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Transportation (DoTR) one hand and the Department of Health and the healthcare community on the other hand. The former call for the easing of restrictions and the opening up of more businesses and the latter want to keep the restrictions imposed under the general community quarantine (GCQ) in order to stem further infections.

The choice is actually between a rock and a hard place. Meaning whichever you choose, you will be the loser.

This is not only happening in our country but also in other more prosperous countries notably the United States. The U.S. has recorded the highest number of cases and deaths with fatalities now numbering more than 200,000 and still rising.

U.S. President Donald Trump has stubbornly refused to wear a mask and observe physical distancing in his rallies despite having been infected with the virus but was able to recover. An incurable optimist Trump believes that the virus can be defeated soon with the therapeutics that he has been given and soon the anti-Covid-19 vaccine. It is doubtful, however, if the vaccine would be available this year as he has trumpeted.

Trump has also pointed out that cases in other countries far outweigh those in the U.S., which is correct. The 27 countries of the European Union plus the United Kingdom in fact have overtaken the U.S. Together, they recorded an average of 78,000 cases a day over a seven-day period ending on Oct. 12, or 152 cases for every million residents. The U.S. recorded 49,000 a day on average over the same period, about 150 for every million residents.

Surprisingly, China, where the virus originated, has reported only a small number of cases. But almost everyone takes China’s reporting of only a few hundred deaths since the outbreak in Wuhan City with a grain of salt. China is a totalitarian state and whatever the Communist Party reports must be swallowed hook line and sinker by the Chinese people.

World-wide, more than 38.2 million people have been infected and nearly 1.1 million have died, the data from the World Health Organization show.
For a time, New Zealand has reported zero cases. This is understandable because New Zealand has more sheep than people. The vast county has a population of about 5 million or less than half of the population of Metro Manila, while it has an estimated 29.5 million sheep.

There is really no sure-fire formula to defeat the coronavirus unless we have the vaccine. But some giant pharmaceutical companies in the U.S. have lately been plagued with uncertainties as to the safety of their vaccines. Some volunteers for testing have exhibited side effects prompting the manufacturers to return the vaccine to their laboratories.

President Duterte has said that the Philippines would prefer to use the vaccines developed by Russia or China which could be procured on credit.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed by the columnists do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of the owners.

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